Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year ahead, 2009, USA.

The year ahead, 2009, USA.

With the economy in tatters from the Wall-Street meltdown, anyone anticipating sweetness and light in the coming year is in for a rude shock.

President Obama takes his oath of office under the same eclipse that brought Wall Street to its knees and repositioned recession (which was a much-danced-around taboo until September) and placed it as a favorable option when compared to its gloomy cousin, depression.

The US government was held to account to the people for its mal-administration of the economy.

While I believe full-scale meltdown into depression can be averted, it will not be without a lot of hard work from the government and deep resolve from the people.

President Obama enters his first term feeling the need to give account to the people for his every action. A large part of his appeal is transparency in the Whitehouse, which lays in direct contrast to the behavior of his predecessor. It is to his credit that he is responding to this need with the most transparent executive branch in history, but it will be interesting to see how long this lasts. While I would like it to remain the case in perpetuity, US history tells me a different story. We’ll see.

As the year progresses, the economic situation will worsen before it shows any signs of getting better. Destabilization will peak in the quarter from March to June, it will even out a little in the quarter from June to September, the year’s most stable quarter will be September to December, but normalcy is unlikely to return until March 2010, at which time a more certain path forward will emerge, though the 2010 year is still relatively unstable.

In short, the economic crisis is deep, it is protracted, it is global, and there are no quick fixes. The best hope is to ride out the storm as best we can, and plan for better days in the medium to long term.

The people will suffer most of all, with serious erosion of core values. Desperation will lead people to do things they had thought unthinkable, and become the people they had previously despised. The notion that “If I am good I will be OK” will take a serious hammering. We have already suffered enormous job-losses, and the US infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with large-scale unemployment. The subsequent drop in those covered by health insurance will force more people into emergency care with fewer resources to deal with it. The stage is set for a depression-like episode, however I think the worst of it will be fairly short-lived.

I can see President Obama at his lowest public opinion ebb in the quarter from Cancer (late June) to Libra (late September), after which he begins to restore some respectability, to his name, to the Whitehouse, and to the country, however it will be 2012 before the economy and the country begin to gain lasting traction.

The president will need the tenacity to hold on through the toughest times in most people’s memory, and realize that even the very best he is capable of will fall short of what is required in the short term.

The government and clergy of the USA will do well to emphasize introspection, compassion, and care for our fellow man. Much needs to be made of “pulling together” when the going gets tough, lest the society fragment into violent, competitive interest groups.

Step by step through the year…..

Inauguration day will be the highlight of what will turn out to be a very bleak year.

The president will look good, the people will be wowed. The president will display the steady hand that he needs to have to see these times through, and despite the tough times ahead, his presidency looks like it will endure, though it will not accomplish all that it has set out to do. Cleaning out the culture of corruption in Washington will be the hallmark of this presidency, though it will be interesting to see how he manages to do this while working with the very people he needs to reform. The waning moon suggests that this term of his presidency will be about ending the old era more than about starting a new one.

The January 26 solar eclipse, just a week after the inauguration, sees the hopes and dreams of the people pinned to their president and his ideals. This is not an eclipse that allows a lot to be accomplished, however it stresses that the greatest good of the people is in fostering strong community and neighborhood spirit. That is just about all that the people will have going for them in the next 6 months. There will be talk of war and civil unrest, which the executive branch will try desperately to ignore. They will be forced to face it soon enough.

The February 9 Lunar eclipse brings the reality of the financial crisis home to many Americans. While their welfare is best served by “keeping the faith” the majority of Americans are going to feel isolated, alone, and disillusioned for this lunar eclipse period, which ends in July.

The Aries ingress of March 20 ushers in the most punishing quarter of the year. By mid-June, the country is going to feel awash, the crisis will look insurmountable, the fabric of the society will begin to tear and people will wonder just how low it can go. This will be the darkest period of all, however it will not endure for long. The country will slowly, tentatively, show some signs of hope. It will actually be a couple of years before it begins to really recover, but the worst of the storm is over by June 21, and the fits and starts of the economic solutions begin, falter, regroup and slowly take root enough for people to get some confidence going.

The Cancer ingress of June 21 begins to staunch to the flow. This is not so much an upward trund, but a “less downward” trend, and the first hint of anything that resembles progress. During the economic crisis, there will military or other overseas crises that have been brewing and will then require some attention. They will still not get much attention, but they should not be ignored. There is both strength and resolve in the treasury, and while it is not enough to do any real good, it is a good place to start.

The Lunar eclipse of July 7 sees the first real glimpse that the president understands the plight of the people. He will present a detailed plan that will focus on family and core values, the people will finally feel as though they have been heard and will come together behind a plan. The “lost in the woods” feeling that took root in February will abate in favor of “it’s a hard row to hoe, but somebody’s got to do it”.

The solar eclipse later that month, (July 21) in the last degree of Cancer shows the people, unable to do anything about the economic crisis themselves, turning to family and core values, the only part of this mess in which they have any influence. While this has no measurable impact on the country as a whole, the exercise is a vital first step in restoring the will of the people. The dark side to this influence, and one that is commonly used in American politics, is that the entire economic and political debate can be sidetracked by dividing people over such issues as gay marriage, thereby sowing discord and strife in the name of family values at a time when the people are most vulnerable.

The Lunar Eclipse of August 5 brings out the idealistic side of the people again, as difficult plans are solidifying into difficult realities, life is not particularly pleasant or fruitful, but at least it is productive, and that is a start. The specter of war and/or terrorism occupies the minds of congress at this time.

The Libra ingress of September 22 brings with it the first glimmer of hope that things might be turning around. It provides the most stable quarter in the last several years, but it is only, alas, one quarter. There is a long way to go from here, but optimism increases for this little while at least.

The Capricorn ingress of December 21 sustains hope, but the stability of the previous quarter evaporates as a stronger military anxiety emerges. I will discuss this further as the time draws near and a clearer picture emerges. The Capricorn ingress is more important to the first quarter of 2010

The December 31 Lunar eclipse again brings the focus on the family as the issue that influences the people most, but that is a discussion for early 2010.